Welcome to MSF Field Research

 

MSF is known for its humanitarian medical work, but it has also produced important research based on its field experience. It has published articles in over 100 peer-reviewed journals and they have often changed clinical practice and been used for humanitarian advocacy. These articles are available for free, in full text - no login required. We sincerely thank the publishers for their permission to archive on this site.

 

Published Research and Commentary
Conference Abstracts
Programme Descriptions
Research Resources

 

  • The duration of chemoprophylaxis against malaria after treatment with artesunate-amodiaquine and artemether-lumefantrine and the effects of pfmdr1 86Y and pfcrt 76T: a meta-analysis of individual patient data

    Bretscher, M; Dahal, P; Griffin, J; Bassat, Q; Baudin, E; D'Alessandro, U; Djimde, AA; Dorsey, G; Espié, E; Fofana, B; et al. (BioMed Central, 2020-02-25)
    BACKGROUND: The majority of Plasmodium falciparum malaria cases in Africa are treated with the artemisinin combination therapies artemether-lumefantrine (AL) and artesunate-amodiaquine (AS-AQ), with amodiaquine being also widely used as part of seasonal malaria chemoprevention programs combined with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. While artemisinin derivatives have a short half-life, lumefantrine and amodiaquine may give rise to differing durations of post-treatment prophylaxis, an important additional benefit to patients in higher transmission areas. METHODS: We analyzed individual patient data from 8 clinical trials of AL versus AS-AQ in 12 sites in Africa (n = 4214 individuals). The time to PCR-confirmed reinfection after treatment was used to estimate the duration of post-treatment protection, accounting for variation in transmission intensity between settings using hidden semi-Markov models. Accelerated failure-time models were used to identify potential effects of covariates on the time to reinfection. The estimated duration of chemoprophylaxis was then used in a mathematical model of malaria transmission to determine the potential public health impact of each drug when used for first-line treatment. RESULTS: We estimated a mean duration of post-treatment protection of 13.0 days (95% CI 10.7-15.7) for AL and 15.2 days (95% CI 12.8-18.4) for AS-AQ overall. However, the duration varied significantly between trial sites, from 8.7-18.6 days for AL and 10.2-18.7 days for AS-AQ. Significant predictors of time to reinfection in multivariable models were transmission intensity, age, drug, and parasite genotype. Where wild type pfmdr1 and pfcrt parasite genotypes predominated (<=20% 86Y and 76T mutants, respectively), AS-AQ provided ~ 2-fold longer protection than AL. Conversely, at a higher prevalence of 86Y and 76T mutant parasites (> 80%), AL provided up to 1.5-fold longer protection than AS-AQ. Our simulations found that these differences in the duration of protection could alter population-level clinical incidence of malaria by up to 14% in under-5-year-old children when the drugs were used as first-line treatments in areas with high, seasonal transmission. CONCLUSION: Choosing a first-line treatment which provides optimal post-treatment prophylaxis given the local prevalence of resistance-associated markers could make a significant contribution to reducing malaria morbidity.
  • Field challenges to measles elimination in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    Coulborn, RM; Nackers, F; Bachy, C; Porten, K; Vochten, H; Ndele, E; Van Herp, M; Bibala-Faray, E; Cohuet, S; Panunzi, I (Elsevier, 2020-02-25)
    BACKGROUND: During a measles epidemic, the Ministry of Public Health (MOH) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo conducted supplementary immunization activities (2016-SIA) from August 28-September 3, 2016 throughout Maniema Province. From October 29-November 4, 2016, Médecins Sans Frontières and the MOH conducted a reactive measles vaccination campaign (2016-RVC) targeting children six months to 14 years old in seven health areas with heavy ongoing transmission despite inclusion in the 2016-SIA, and a post-vaccination survey. We report the measles vaccine coverage (VC) and effectiveness (VE) of the 2016-SIA and VC of the 2016-RVC. METHODS: A cross-sectional VC cluster survey stratified by semi-urban/rural health area and age was conducted. A retrospective cohort analysis of measles reported by the parent/guardian allowed calculation of the cumulative measles incidence according to vaccination status after the 2016-SIA for an estimation of crude and adjusted VE. RESULTS: In November 2016, 1145 children (6-59 months old) in the semi-urban and 1158 in the rural areas were surveyed. Post-2016-SIA VC (documentation/declaration) was 81.6% (95%CI: 76.5-85.7) in the semi-urban and 91.0% (95%CI: 84.9-94.7) in the rural areas. The reported measles incidence in October among children less than 5 years old was 5.0% for 2016-SIA-vaccinated and 11.2% for 2016-SIA-non-vaccinated in the semi-urban area, and 0.7% for 2016-SIA-vaccinated and 4.0% for 2016-SIA-non-vaccinated in the rural area. Post-2016-SIA VE (adjusted for age, sex) was 53.9% (95%CI: 2.9-78.8) in the semi-urban and 78.7% (95%CI: 0-97.1) in the rural areas. Post 2016-RVC VC (documentation/declaration) was 99.1% (95%CI: 98.2-99.6) in the semi-urban and 98.8% (95%CI: 96.5-99.6) in the rural areas. CONCLUSIONS: Although our VE estimates could be underestimated due to misclassification of measles status, the VC and VE point estimates of the 2016-SIA in the semi-urban area appear suboptimal, and in combination, could not limit the epidemic. Further research is needed on vaccination strategies adapted to urban contexts.
  • Behind the Scenes of South Africa’s Asylum Procedure: A Qualitative Study on Long-term Asylum-Seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Schockaert, L; Venables, E; Gil-Bazo, MT; Barnwell, G; Gerstenhaber, R; Whitehouse, K (Oxford University Press, 2020-02-20)
    Despite the difficulties experienced by asylum-seekers in South Africa, little research has explored long-term asylum applicants. This exploratory qualitative study describes how protracted asylum procedures and associated conditions are experienced by Congolese asylum-seekers in Tshwane, South Africa. Eighteen asylum-seekers and eight key informants participated in the study. All asylum-seekers had arrived in South Africa between 2003 and 2013, applied for asylum within a year of arrival in Tshwane, and were still in the asylum procedure at the time of the interview, with an average of 9 years since their application. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The findings presented focus on the process of leaving the Democratic Republic of Congo, applying for asylum and aspirations of positive outcomes for one’s life. Subsequently, it describes the reality of prolonged periods of unfulfilled expectations and how protracted asylum procedures contribute to poor mental health. Furthermore, coping mechanisms to mitigate these negative effects are described. The findings suggest that protracted asylum procedures in South Africa cause undue psychological distress. Thus, there is both a need for adapted provision of mental health services to support asylum-seekers on arrival and during the asylum process, and systemic remediation of the implementation of asylum procedures.
  • Emerging priorities for HIV service delivery

    Ford, N; Geng, E; Ellman, T; Orrell, C; Ehrenkranz, P; Sikazwe, I; Jahn, A; Rabkin, M; Ayisi Addo, S; Grimsrud, A; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-02-14)
    Nathan Ford and co-authors discuss global priorities in the provision of HIV prevention and treatment services.
  • Prevention of child wasting: Results of a Child Health & Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) prioritisation exercise

    Frison, S; Angood, C; Khara, T; Bahwere, P; Black, R; Briend, A; Connell, N; Fenn, B; Isanaka, S; James, P; et al. (Public Library of Science, 2020-02-12)
    BACKGROUND: An estimated 49.5 million children under five years of age are wasted. There is a lack of robust studies on effective interventions to prevent wasting. The aim of this study was to identify and prioritise the main outstanding research questions in relation to wasting prevention to inform future research agendas. METHOD: A research prioritisation exercise was conducted following the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative method. Identified research gaps were compiled from multiple sources, categorised into themes and streamlined into forty research questions by an expert group. A survey was then widely circulated to assess research questions according to four criteria. An overall research priority score was calculated to rank questions. FINDINGS: The prioritised questions have a strong focus on interventions. The importance of the early stages of life in determining later experiences of wasting was highlighted. Other important themes included the identification of at-risk infants and young children early in the progression of wasting and the roles of existing interventions and the health system in prevention. DISCUSSION: These results indicate consensus to support more research on the pathways to wasting encompassing the in-utero environment, on the early period of infancy and on the process of wasting and its early identification. They also reinforce how little is known about impactful interventions for the prevention of wasting. CONCLUSION: This exercise provides a five-year investment case for research that could most effectively improve on-the-ground programmes to prevent child wasting and inform supportive policy change.

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